Dear friends, colleagues, La Peña community and supporters,
Last June, I wrote that “after 33 years of on-the-job-training, I am retiring from La Peña at the end of July.” As I write again, four-and-a-half months later, I can see how that training prepared me to expect the unexpected and be flexible under changing circumstances. To my own surprise, I am still here, unretired and temporarily continuing as Executive Director of La Peña at the request of the La Peña board and staff.
My end-of-July retirement date was part of a general plan for staff reorganization that had been under discussion among the staff and board for several months. That plan was driven in part by the need to drastically cut La Peña’s expenses due to losses in funding. It should come as no surprise that La Peña has been affected by major cutbacks in funding for non-profit arts and cultural work. Our financial situation is one example of the global financial crisis gone local. Unfortunately, in trying to adjust the way we work to fit a looming deficit, we failed to adjust for the impact abrupt staff layoffs would have on longtime staff members and the La Peña community.
In July, in response to objections to the board’s actions by members of the staff and the La Peña community, the board recognized that it had made mistakes and immediately moved to rectify them. Given the resulting instability and the need to rebuild trust and still resolve the financial situation, the board and the staff requested that I postpone retirement.
Many changes are underway at La Peña. Organizationally, we are currently working with fewer staff and resources, but with renewed energy and input from volunteers who have come forward offering time, ideas, and support for the difficult process of trying to do more, and do it better, with less. The board and staff are working closely together with the same goal.
I would not still be here if I weren’t optimistic that La Peña will continue to be the diverse, dynamic gathering place where artists and activists come together to build a just world for all.
To continue into the future we will need your direct support. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation so we can still be a home, a hub, and a catalyst for social justice. Give whatever you can. Every dollar counts.
For the La Peña Board and Staff
PS, you can donate on-line at lapena.org.